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Album of The Year #2: Open Mike Eagle - Anime, Trauma + Divorce

Artist: Open Mike Eagle

Album: Anime, Trauma + Divorce

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Background

Open Mike Eagle, Southside legend, underground hero, if you don’t know by now, I’m not gonna catch you up you can do yourself a favour and go listen to Dark Comedy, go listen to Unapologetic Art Rap, Hella Personal Film Festival, Brick Body Kids Still Daydream etcetera! I could go on the point is you are missing out and I’m not here to underwhelmingly describe in text what you could explore for yourself with your ears he has hands down one of the best back catalogues of the past 10+ years and if this album vibed with you at all and you haven’t checked out his prior releases I’m sure they’ll bless your soul too.


Review

Anime Trauma + Divorce is an intensely blunt title, just straight up describes what you’re gonna get no fuss no muss (which is in complete contrast with his prior LP “Brick Body Kids Still Daydream”) and immediately dumps the user into the world of trauma (and anime) with the track ‘Death Parade’ describing the cycle of abuse and how you carry it from one relationship (romantic or otherwise) to the next, never directly recounting what the initial trauma is because ultimately it’s unimportant to this tale of woe, the only thing that matters is everything good and bad will have a knock on effect.

This however is just the tip of the iceberg, 2019 (yes 19! Not 20 who’d have thought) was a rough year for Mike, this album heavily details events that cut so deep they’ll probably scar permanently, the crown jewel (what a terrible circumstance for this metaphor) of which being the divorce from his wife, the effects of this scattered across this album in its entirety, showing its constant weight on ‘Bucciarati’ (with a super delicate and sombre verse from Kari Faux) even long after the initial event, or causing him to anxiously hyper analyse everything on ‘Sweatpants Spider-Man’ and trying to discover himself after years of being one half of a whole.

There’s also great pain in the ending of his show, The New Negroes (with Baron Vaughn), after just a singular season & the final collapse of Hellfyre Club along with him splitting from Mello Music Group as a whole and going it alone on his own label, Auto Reverse Records, which while aren’t explored particularly in depth outside of the song ‘Everything Ends Last Year’ definitely give you an idea of where he was at in life while creating this record.

It’s not all bad though, in between all this doom and gloom there’s the classic super sharp self-aware hilarious OME we all know and love, poking fun at his flaws on tracks like ‘Headass (Idiot Shinji)’ and the therapeutic process as a whole in ‘WTF is Self Care’ which to me is one of the highlights of this record, just a pure comedic onslaught about a question most of us would like defined, immediately followed up with his own version of self care, ‘I’m A Joestar (Black Power Fantasy)’ isn’t’ a track I loved when it was released as a single but within the context of the album it’s truly fantastic and such a beacon of joy and absurdity. I was discussing the album with my good friend /u/reptiie and he absolutely had a greater point than I did but what I picked up is that while this is a form of escapism and self-care for Mike on a personal level, the original title for this song ‘Black People Need Anime The Most’ is indicative of something bigger in that escapism is something that everybody needs but especially black people and with the lack of representation in media it’s something they have to pull from anywhere and grasp on to even the tiniest of strands of relatability.

Beyond the comedy, I think there’s a real silver lining in that all of this damage over a short period of time has truly made Mike appreciate the one constant aside from the music, even through all this mess, in his son Asa, littered both credited and not across this album I think it’s wonderful how evident it is & truthfully it’s kinda crazy how not bad he is as a rapper already, if ‘15~20ft Ocean Nah’ is anything to go by (awful audio quality aside) he has a bright future ahead of him and a loving father to guide him. ‘Asa’s Bop’ is very much a clear-cut example of just how much he is his saving grace, with the song detailing how just as Mike feels completely lost and powerless, he can hear him singing this nonsensical rhythm while skipping throughout the house and it uplifts his spirits to conquer anything.

2019 was an awful year for Open Mike Eagle, 2020 probably was too (even with endless fire merch from him and his co-conspirator Arthur Banach or the incredible podcast/interview/history lesson ‘What Had Happened Was’ with the legendary Prince Paul) but I truly hope he has a 2021 as great as this album is.


Favourite Lyrics

What the fuck is acrisis, anyway that I slice it

Gotta get an apartment, scared to look at them prices

Weird bachelor couches, my belly hanging like Ralphus

Re-reading old comic books, Rob Liefeld and them pouches

Sweatpants Spider-Man

In between and singing blues is the tendency

But Michael nimble, Michael move independently

He a paragon, peep the ten hour marathon

Studio cryin, watchin Evangelion

Asa's Bop

Ninety parts choice and like three parts destiny

I hate when my homies do coke and start textin' me

Make your own choices, self-care and your medicine

But I can see the sweat right there in the letterin'

The Edge Of New Clothes

If I was petty I would try it as a court case

The goddamn episode raised the divorce rate

This one episode broke my house

We was just sittin' there quiet on the couch

Was a good ten minutes then it all went south

So goddamn heavy couldn't open my mouth

Should've picked something else, anything else

Do The Right Thing Blu-Ray on the shelf

Or the bootleg tape of Will Ferrell in Elf

Cause now I gotta live with my goddamn self

The Black Mirror Episode

Talking Points

Which Black Mirror Episode was it (wrong answers only)

What’s your favourite piece of media for escapism?

How do you think this album ranks among OME’s discography?

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